The BCA welcomes the ALP’s commitment to undertake a broad-based review of Australia’s trade policies and programs. There are new and emerging opportunities and challenges in global markets and Australia needs to make certain it is using its policy settings and resources in the most effective way. We see it as important and timely that such a review is undertaken in close consultation with business.
Using policy settings to lift the international performance of Australia’s services sector is also supported by business, especially in light of lower growth in the exports of services compared with other developed countries. Business also sees such as approach as complementing and supporting trade in agriculture, resources and industrial goods which increasingly rely on services such as finance, legal services and good transportation.
The BCA supports the commitment by the ALP to making the world trade Doha Round negotiations its key priority. Achieving an outcome to the Doha Round that opens up new opportunities for business would drive future world growth and strengthen the rules-based system that underpins international trade.
In relation to the export market development grants program, the ALP’s commitment to both increase the funding and free up the eligibility criteria will make a contribution to increasing the number of small and medium Australian companies building export markets. The next government also needs to consider the effectiveness of this and other export support programs, and the BCA views this as being undertaken as a component of the wider comprehensive review of trade and investment policy settings and programs.
A further priority for business is for Australia to continue the process of negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) that support our wider economic and commercial interests. The BCA supports conducting an assessment of FTAs in order to make certain that current and future FTAs support improved trade and investment opportunities as well as the goal of global free trade. This could be undertaken as part of the wider review of trade policy settings.
The BCA has also identified the importance of working with the next government to further strengthen our economic and wider commercial position in Asia and the Asia–Pacific, particularly through positive and comprehensive efforts to conclude FTAs with China, Japan and the ASEAN nations.